God’s Call To My Freedom – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s book – Contemplative Prayer

by Mark Votava

51FZrw4lgtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. The illusion of having “arrived somewhere”

“A method of meditation or a form of contemplation that merely produces the illusion of having  ‘arrived somewhere,’ of having achieved security and preserved one’s familiar status by playing a part, will eventually have to be unearned in dread – or else we will be confirmed in the arrogance, the impenetrable self-assurance of the Pharisee.  We will become impervious to the deepest truths.  We will be closed to all who do not participate in our illusion.  We will live ‘good lives’ that are basically inauthentic, ‘good’ only as long as they permit us to remain established in our respectable and impermeable identities.  The ‘goodness’ of such lives depends on the security afforded by relative wealth, recreation, spiritual comfort, and a solid reputation for piety.  Such ‘goodness’ is preserved by routine and the habitual avoidance of serious risk – indeed of serious challenge.  In order to avoid apparent evil, this pseudo-goodness will ignore the summons of genuine good.  It will prefer routine duty to courage and creativity.  In the end it will be content with established procedures and safe formulas, while turning a blind eye to the greatest enormities of injustices and uncharity.”

2. Being beginners, all our life

“We do not want to be beginners.  But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”

3. Awareness and receptivity

“But more and more our efforts attain a new orientation: instead of being directed toward ends we have chosen ourselves, instead of being measured by the profit and pleasure we judge they will produce, they are more and more directed to an obedient and cooperative submission to grace, which implies first of all an increasingly attentive and receptive attitude toward the hidden action of the Holy Spirit.  It is precisely the function of meditation, in the sense in which we speak of it here, to bring us to this attitude of awareness and receptivity.  It also gives us strength and hope, along with a deep awareness of the value of interior silence in which the mystery of God’s love is made clear to us.”

4. The labor of discipline

“Without virtue there can be no real and lasting contemplation.  Without the labor of discipline there can be no rest in love.”

5. Full responsibility and authenticity

“My true identity lies hidden in God’s call to my freedom…  This means I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often unpenetrable mystery.  I cannot discover my ‘meaning’ if I try to evade the dread which comes from first experiencing my meaninglessness!”

6. A permanent disposition to humility

“Meditation implies the capacity to receive this grace whenever God wishes to grant it to us, and therefore a permanent disposition to humility, attention to reality, receptivity, pliability…”

Which quote do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.